Manu Bhaker, Anjum Moudgil in core group as NRAI keeps focus on Tokyo preparation

The National Rifle Association of India has included youngsters Anish Bhanwala and Esha Singh to keep options open for selection.

By Subhayan Dutta

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) announced a core group of 32 shooters to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics across nine events with Manu Bhaker and Anjum Moudgil selected to compete in two each.

While Manu Bhaker is India’s best medal hope in women’s 10m Air Pistol, the Haryana shooter will also feature in the 25m Pistol event alongside Anuraj Singh, Esha Singh, and Yashaswini Singh.

Anjum Moudgil, who specialises in the 10m Air Rifle event, will also be competing in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions alongside Gaayathri N, Sunidhi Chauhan and Tejawini Sawant.

Anjum Moudgil will train for the 10m Air Rifle event and the 50m Rifle 3P for the Olympics Photo: ISSF

While all the 15 shooting quota winners have been included in the core group, the national federation has excluded men's trap and women’s skeet events as no quota has been sealed in either.

Changes depend on scores and form

Even though the trials were conducted in March, the announcement of the names was pushed back owing to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, after careful consideration, NRAI has named 17 more shooters, apart from the quota winners, who could swap places with them depending on form and aggregate scores.

“These shooters [core group] will be training and preparing for the Games separately. There could be a change or two also when the team is selected depending on scores and form of shooters,” an NRAI source told Press Trust of India.

With the new deadline for the Tokyo 2020 Qualification now rescheduled to June 6, 2021, NRAI’s selected coaches and shooters will get time to solely focus on Olympic preparations and cherry-pick the best marksmen from the country.

“The shooters and coaches will get more clarity on how to go about things,” national coach Deepali Deshpande told Hindustan Times.

“We need to keep them in good form so that whenever sports resumes there should be some base from where they can start.

“We can get back to the drawing board, work on their fitness and technical issues,” she explained.

Bhanwala, Esha make the cut

Young Anish Bhanwala’s name was also included in the core group in hope of further improving the shooter’s chances of landing a quota place next year.

Anish Bhanwala was in the top 10 of men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol ISSF rankings at the end of March. With all the shooters ranked above him already securing Olympic quotas, Bhanwala can win an Olympic quota for himself by virtue of his ranking.

The shooter can cement it with some good performances at the World Cup scheduled to be held in March-April next year, and NRAI is looking to bank on it.

Aside from him, 15-year-old Esha Singh has also been included in the group.

The shooter had competed in the qualification tournament in New Delhi in February, earlier this year, where she came third after Manu Bhaker and Yashaswini Singh Deswal in the 10m Air Pistol category.

However, the Olympics postponement has worked in her favour as she gets another chance at it.

“This was totally unexpected. Now I am one step closer to achieving the Olympic berth,” Esha Singh told Times of India.

Training Core Group for Tokyo Olympics


50m Rifle 3P: Aishwarya Pratap Singh, Parul Kumar, Sanjeev Rajput, Swapnil Kusale

10m Air Rifle: Deepak Kumar, Divyansh Singh Panwar, Pankaj Singh, Sandeep Singh

25m Rapid Fire Pistol: Anish Bhanwala, Vijayveer Singh

10m Air Pistol men: Abhishek Verma, Om Prakash Mitharwal, Saurabh Chaudhary, Shahzar Rizvi

Skeet: Angadvir Bajwa, Gurjot Singh, Mairaj Ahmad Khan, Sheeraz Sheikh


50m Rifle 3P: Anjum Moudgil, Gaayathri N, Sunidhi Chauhan, Tejawini Sawant

10m Air Rifle: Anjum Moudgil, Apurvi Chandela, Elavenil Valarivan, Shreya Agarwal

25m Pistol: Abhidnya Patil, Chinki Yadav, Manu Bhaker, Rahi Sarnobat

10m Air Pistol: Anuraj Singh, Esha Singh, Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh